Category Archives: 500 Level Fun

25 Blue Jay Predictions for 2017

Opening Day is here, and with that it’s time to post the final prediction column of the year.  In past  Blue Jays prediction columns, I have gone all in on guys like Eric Thames, Colby Rasmus, and Colt Hynes.  Oops, oops, and oops!

So who will be my darling this year?

Here are 25 predictions about Toronto’s upcoming season.  Enjoy!

1. Jose Bautista enjoys a huge bounce-back season, posting an OPS over .950.

2. Kendrys Morales puts up better power numbers in Toronto than Edwin Encarnacion does in Cleveland.

3. Josh Donaldson finished in the top-3 of AL MVP voting.

4. Marcus Stroman proves that his performance in the WBC was no fluke by leading the AL in wins.

5. One of Joe Smith and J.P. Howell has a tremendous season, leading the Jays in IP for relievers.  The other does not and is off the team by the end of July.

6. All five of Toronto’s starters make at least 25 starts.

7. Kevin Pillar hits over .290.

8. Steve Pearce, Kendrys Morales, Justin Smoak, Jose Bautista, and Ryan Goins each make multiple starts at 1B before…..

9. ……Toronto acquires a more permanent solution at the trade deadline.

10. Zeke steals 25+ bases.

11. The Blue Jays post a winning record against every member of the AL East.

12. Saltalamacchia keeps Russell Martin fresh by making over 50 starts behind the plate.

13. The extra rest allows for Martin to have a more productive season, keeping his OPS closer to .800.

14. One Blue Jay joins Carlos Delgado by hitting 4 HR in a single game.

15. Marco Estrada finally does what he has come close to doing on multiple occasions – throw a no-hitter.

16. The longest hitting streak by a Toronto batter will exceed 25 games.

17. The longest scoreless inning streak by a Toronto pitcher will exceed 25 innings.

18. Rowdy Tellez has at least 20 AB this season.

19. On May 8, Edwin makes his Toronto return.  He will be greeted by a 3-minute standing ovation and promptly go deep in his first AB.

20. But the Jays get a bit of revenge on Cleveland and win the season series.

21. Tulowitzki avoids the DL and puts up his best season as a member of the Jays.

22. Toronto scores 10 or more runs in a game 15 times in 2017.

23.  At least five RP from outside the organization make an appearance.

24. Dalton Pompey makes a meaningful contribution out of the LF spot in September.

25. The Jays stay neck-and-neck with Boston all season long before sneaking past them in the season’s final week to win the East.

Best Day Ever – The Tenth Annual Fantasy Baseball Autodraft

Fantasy baseball draft cheat sheets?

Throw ’em away.

All your research on position scarcity?

Don’t need it.

Projections, sleepers, busts, and breakout players?

Burn ’em.

If you are a hardcore fantasy baseball fan, stay away.  This is not the draft for you.

But if you are a man who enjoys heavy drinking, chicken wings, disgusting shots, and watching a tiny computer screen automatically select baseball players for your team, then get ready.  Buckle up.

Today brings one of the greatest days on the baseball calendar – the 10th annual PEGS fantasy baseball league auto draft.

What makes this league so unique from others?  Why is this league, the one that I play in each year that requires no draft strategy, my ultimate favourite?  Please, join me in the ultimate guide to the auto draft to find out.

The History

It all started in 2008 when a group of 10 friends decided to set up a fantasy baseball league.  The draft was set for 5 pm on a Wednesday.  Each member of the league planned to stay in the office late in order to draft from work.  Unfortunately, it turned out that the majority of the league was blocked from running Java, meaning they couldn’t access Yahoo’s live draft.

So, instead of drafting, the members of the league convened at a pub and drank multiple pitchers of beer, logged into a laptop, and watched as Yahoo automatically filled our rosters.  The amount of fun, joy, and hilarity that ensued was unexpected, but amazing.

The auto draft was born.

The Draft

From that point on, it was decided that the league would continue each year, and the auto draft would continue as well.  In order to keep the draft standard each year, the following rules were established:

– Only one member of the league is allowed to log in, and only one laptop can be used

– No member of the league is allowed to alter his pre-draft rankings.  Doing so results in his execution (figuratively).

– Every pick must be made by the Yahoo auto draft system.

– The draft must take place at a pub.  Every member of the league must either be there in person, or at least be there in spirit (via text).

– Each member of the league who is at the bar must drink a least three beers, though the commissioner (me) would prefer to see everybody have at least twelve.

The League

Believe it or not, it takes some very shrewd managing to win the league.  Since all teams are essentially random, the GM who makes the best free agent pickups and trades will rise to the top.

In addition, the man who comes in last place faces one of two punishments:

1. He must purchase a round of rye shots for the entire league at the next year’s draft, or

2. He is ruthlessly cut from the league, tarred and feathered and paraded through the streets.

The Penalty Shots

Before the draft the league nominates several players, debates them, and ultimately confirms a final list.  Whenever any of those pre-determined players are drafted, the owner who is stuck with that player must drink a pre-determined shot.  In 2011, there were a total of six penalty shots.  In every year since the number has been expanding.  This year we are up to a minimum of 13.  Meet this year’s penalty shot nominees:

– Yoenis Cespedes

– Yasiel Puig

– Josh Donaldson

– Edwin Encarnacion

– Bryce Harper

– Rick “Just the Tip” Porcello

– Pablo Sandoval

– Josh Hamilton

– Jose Quintana

– Dee Gordon

– Carlos Gomez

– Chris Davis

– Rougned Odor

– Any Asian Player (Darvish, Iwakuma, etc.)

The list of potential shots is endless, but will definitely include Rye, Jack Daniels, Tequila, Captain Morgan, Jagermeister, Goldschlager, Hawaiian Lion, and a Bear Fight (made of an Irish Car Bomb immediately followed by a Jagr bomb, as shown below).  Good luck gents.

bear fight

The Trades

As mentioned, it is important to be active in the trade market to win this league.  Trading, especially at the draft, and especially before the draft is over, is highly encouraged.

Each year at least one trade has been made during the draft.  Generally these trades are completely random, such as a 21st rounder and a 24th rounder for a 22nd  rounder and a 23rd rounder.  Generally these trades turn out to be ill-advised, including a few years back when a meaningless swap of 23rd rounders ended up not being so meaningless when Mike Trout exploded onto the scene.  Or last year, when one member of the league, a die-hard Detroit Tiger fan, unknowingly traded away Miguel Cabrera, and spend the next 90 minutes wiping away tears streaming down his cheeks.  Or the infamous “longest last name” trade, resulting in a Kevin Quackenbush for Edwin Encarnacion swap.  Brilliant.

The Final Words

Today’s draft takes place at Gabby’s on King East in Toronto.  The fun gets going at 6:00.

Who will be this year’s champion and join this exclusive list?

2008 – The Forward Claps

2009 – ionionionionionion

2010 – Bear Fights

2011 – The Five Holers

2012 – Dad’s Magic Wiener

2013 – Pupusa Power

2014 – GOD

2015 – Monumental Dog

2016 – Two Enormous UECs

We’ll find out soon enough.

To all my competitors in the league – get ready.  It’s time.

Looking Back at My Blue Jay Predictions

The season is done, free agency is here, and the Blue Jays are undergoing some wholesale changes.  2017 is sure to have a much different look and feel than 2016.  But before we look forward, let’s take a look back at how well I predicted 2016. (Hint: not good)

  1. Jose Bautista leads the American League in HR.

Actual: Nope.  An injury plagued year limited him to only 22 dingers, tied for 43rd in the AL.

  1. Troy Tulowitzki stays healthy, has a huge year, and finishes in the top-5 of AL MVP voting.

Actual: He stated relatively healthy (131 games), but had an absolutely terrible start, and received zero MVP votes.

  1. Josh Donaldson continues where he left off in 2015, and joins Tulo in the top-5.

Actual: Nailed it.  Another outstanding season for Josh saw him finish 4th in AL MVP balloting.

  1. Marcus Stroman thrives as the “ace”, reaching the 20-win plateau.

Actual: Was held to only 9 wins, after a very up-and-down season.

  1. Both J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada regress from last year, but while the stats are down across the board they still turn in solid seasons.

Actual: Quite the opposite, as both actually improved.  Happ reached the 20 win plateau and Estrada finished with a 3.48 ERA.

  1. For the first time in years, Toronto’s bullpen stays relatively stable.  The club uses fewer than 15 relievers (after using 23 in 2013, 23 in 2014, and 22 in 2015)

Actual: Not even close.  The bullpen was a dumpster fire through much of the first half.  Including relief appearances by three starters (Dickey, Hutchison, and Liriano all came out of the pen at least once each), the Jays actually used 25 relievers in 2016, more than the previous three years.

  1. Jesse Chavez is called on to make 10 starts.

Actual: Nope – zero starts and was gone before the deadline.

  1. Drew Hutchison is called up to make 3 starts.

Actual: Nope.  He made three appearances (one in relief, two starts) and was gone by the deadline.

  1. Kevin Pillar struggles in the leadoff spot and is moved down to the 8/9 slot by the end of April.  He is replaced by Michael Saunders.

Actual: Hey hey – nailed it!  Pillar’s last game as the leadoff hitter came on April 16th, an 0-for-4 appearance that dropped his average to .188 and his OBP to .235.  He was replaced in the leadoff spot on April 17th by….Michael Saunders.  Nice!

  1. Saunders has a very nice bounceback season, finishing with an .800 OPS and 20 HR.

Actual: Two in a row!! Saunders had a huge first half that resulted in his first ever All-Star appearance, and finished the season with 24 HR and.815 OPS.

  1. After being moved down, Pillar thrives on the basepaths, stealing over 20 bases after the All-Star break.

Actual: Nope.  He finished with 14 SB total, 7 each in the first and second halves.

  1. R.A. Dickey throws more than 200 innings for the 6th straight season.

Actual: Not really even close.  Dickey finished with 169.2 IP after being skipped for most of September.

  1. The Blue Jays crush the Orioles, winning 14 of the 19 regular season meetings.

Actual: Close, but not quite.  The Jays won 10 of 19 games vs. Baltimore, good enough to give them home field in the Wild Card game.

  1. Edwin Encarnacion hits a home run into the 500 level….twice.

Actual: A lot of bombs, none that big.

  1. The Jays rip off four winning streaks of at least 6 games each.

Actual: No, just twice.  They won seven straight from July 2 -8 and six straight from October 1 through the ALDS sweep of Texas.

  1. GM Ross Atkins swings a deal for a backup catcher sometime in May.

Actual: No – but he did reacquire Dioner Navarro in August, so kind of close.

  1. Toronto absolutely humiliates the Red Sox by scoring over 20 runs in a June game in Fenway.

Actual: Not even close.  They managed to score 15 runs combined in three June games in Fenway.

  1. Aaron Sanchez struggles in April, but the Jays stick with him and he rebounds with a huge May and June….

Actual: Half right.  He didn’t struggle in April.  In fact, he never really struggled all season long, putting together a huge season for the Jays.

  1. …including throwing the second no-hitter in Blue Jays history.

Actual: But not that huge.

  1. The Blue Jays offense does not get shutout once, all season long.

Actual: Oh boy.  Despite having baseball’s best offense on paper heading into the season, the Jays were shutout eight times during the regular season, then twice more in the five game loss to Cleveland in the ALCS.

  1. Roberto Osuna starts the season as the closer, but Drew Storen finishes the season as the closer.

Actual: Hahahahahaha!!!!!

  1. One of Bautista and Encarnacion signs an extension during the season.

Actual: Sadly, no.

  1.  Ryan Goins starts over 75 games split between 2B and SS.

Actual: Two-thirds right.  Goins made 50 starts during the season.

  1. One member of the team posts a 30-game hitting streak.

Actual: No.

  1. The Jays use a 20-9 September to rally past the Red Sox and successfully defend their AL East title.

Actual: Quite the opposite.  The Jays suffered through am 11-16 September to cough up the division lead to the Red Sox, nearly dropping out of the postseason entirely.

 

25 Blue Jay Predictions for 2016

logo

With Opening Day a mere two days away (!!!) it’s time to post the final prediction column of the year.  In past  Blue Jays prediction columns, I have gone all in on guys like Eric Thames, Colby Rasmus, and Colt Hynes.  Oops, oops, and oops!

So who will be my darling this year?

Here are 25 predictions about Toronto’s upcoming season.  Enjoy!

1. Jose Bautista leads the American League in HR.

2. Troy Tulowitzki stays healthy, has a huge year, and finishes in the top-5 of AL MVP voting.

3. Josh Donaldson continues where he left off in 2015, and joins Tulo in the top-5.

4. Marcus Stroman thrives as the “ace”, reaching the 20-win plateau.

5. Both J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada regress from last year, but while the stats are down across the board they still turn in solid seasons.

6. For the first time in years, Toronto’s bullpen stays relatively stable.  The club uses fewer than 15 relievers (after using 23 in 2013, 23 in 2014, and 22 in 2015)

7. Jesse Chavez is called on to make 10 starts.

8. Drew Hutchison is called up to make 3 starts.

9. Kevin Pillar struggles in the leadoff spot and is moved down to the 8/9 slot by the end of April.  He is replaced by Michael Saunders.

10. Saunders has a very nice bounceback season, finishing with an .800 OPS and 20 HR.

11. After being moved down, Pillar thrives on the basepaths, stealing over 20 bases after the All-Star break.

12. R.A. Dickey throws more than 200 innings for the 6th straight season.

13. The Blue Jays crush the Orioles, winning 14 of the 19 regular season meetings.

14. Edwin Encarnacion hits a home run into the 500 level….twice.

15. The Jays rip off four winning streaks of at least 6 games each.

16. GM Ross Atkins swings a deal for a backup catcher sometime in May.

17. Toronto absolutely humiliates the Red Sox by scoring over 20 runs in a June game in Fenway.

18. Aaron Sanchez struggles in April, but the Jays stick with him and he rebounds with a huge May and June….

19. …including throwing the second no-hitter in Blue Jays history.

20. The Blue Jays offense does not get shutout once, all season long.

21. Roberto Osuna starts the season as the closer, but Drew Storen finishes the season as the closer.

22. One of Bautista and Encarnacion signs an extension during the season.

23.  Ryan Goins starts over 75 games split between 2B and SS.

24. One member of the team posts a 30-game hitting streak.

25. The Jays use a 20-9 September to rally past the Red Sox and successfully defend their AL East title.

The Best Day Ever – The Ninth Annual Fantasy Baseball Auto Draft

autodraft[1]

Fantasy baseball draft cheat sheets?

Throw ’em away.

All your research on position scarcity?

Don’t need it.

Projections, sleepers, busts, and breakout players?

Burn ’em.

If you are a hardcore fantasy baseball fan, stay away.  This is not the draft for you.

But if you are a man who enjoys heavy drinking, chicken wings, disgusting shots, and watching a tiny computer screen automatically select baseball players for your team, then get ready.  Buckle up.

Tomorrow brings with it one of the greatest days on the baseball calendar – the 9th annual PEGS fantasy baseball league auto draft.

What makes this league so unique from others?  Why is this league, the one that I play in each year that requires no draft strategy, my ultimate favourite?  Please, join me in the ultimate guide to the auto draft to find out.

The History

It all started in 2008 when a group of 10 friends decided to set up a fantasy baseball league.  The draft was set for 5 pm on a Wednesday.  Each member of the league planned to stay in the office late in order to draft from work.  Unfortunately, it turned out that the majority of the league was blocked from running Java, meaning they couldn’t access Yahoo’s live draft.

So, instead of drafting, the members of the league convened at a pub and drank multiple pitchers of beer, logged into a laptop, and watched as Yahoo automatically filled our rosters.  The amount of fun, joy, and hilarity that ensued was unexpected, but amazing.

The auto draft was born.

The Draft

From that point on, it was decided that the league would continue each year, and the auto draft would continue as well.  In order to keep the draft standard each year, the following rules were established:

– Only one member of the league is allowed to log in, and only one laptop can be used

– No member of the league is allowed to alter his pre-draft rankings.  Doing so results in his execution (figuratively).

– Every pick must be made by the Yahoo auto draft system.

– The draft must take place at a pub.  Every member of the league must either be there in person, or at least be there in spirit (via text).

– Each member of the league who is at the bar must drink a least three beers, though the commissioner (me) would prefer to see everybody have at least twelve.

The League

Believe it or not, it takes some very shrewd managing to win the league.  Since all teams are essentially random, the GM who makes the best free agent pickups and trades will rise to the top.

In addition, the man who comes in last place faces one of two punishments:

1. He must purchase a round of rye shots for the entire league at the next year’s draft, or

2. He is ruthlessly cut from the league, tarred and feathered and paraded through the streets.

The Penalty Shots

Before the draft the league nominates several players, debates them, and ultimately confirms a final list.  Whenever any of those pre-determined players are drafted, the owner who is stuck with that player must drink a pre-determined shot.  In 2011, there were a total of six penalty shots.  In every year since the number has been expanding.  This year we are up to a minimum of 13.  Meet this year’s penalty shot nominees:

– Jonathan “The Self Cleaning Anus” Papelbon

– Brett Lawrie

– Max Scherzer

– Prince Fielder

– Starlin Castro

– A-Rod

– Nelson Cruz

– David Price

– Pablo Sandoval

– Hanley Ramirez

– David Ortiz

– Any Asian Player (Darvish, Iwakuma, etc.)

– Any Cuban Player (Cespedes, Puig, etc.)

The list of potential shots is endless, but will definitely include Rye, Jack Daniels, Tequila, Captain Morgan, Jagermeister, Goldschlager, Hawaiian Lion, and a Bear Fight (made of an Irish Car Bomb immediately followed by a Jagr bomb, as shown below).  Good luck gents.

bear fight

The Trades

As mentioned, it is important to be active in the trade market to win this league.  Trading, especially at the draft, and especially before the draft is over, is highly encouraged.

Each year at least one trade has been made during the draft.  Generally these trades are completely random, such as a 21st rounder and a 24th rounder for a 22nd  rounder and a 23rd rounder.  Generally these trades turn out to be ill-advised, including a few years back when a meaningless swap of 23rd rounders ended up not being so meaningless when Mike Trout exploded onto the scene.  Or last year, when one member of the league, a die-hard Detroit Tiger fan, unknowingly traded away Miguel Cabrera, and spend the next 90 minutes wiping away tears streaming down his cheeks.

The Final Words

Tomorrow’s draft takes place at Gabby’s on King East in Toronto.  The fun gets going at 6:00.

Who will be this year’s champion and join this exclusive list?

2008 – The Forward Claps

2009 – ionionionionionion

2010 – Bear Fights

2011 – The Five Holers

2012 – Dad’s Magic Wiener

2013 – Pupusa Power

2014 – GOD

2015 – Monumental Dog

We’ll find out soon enough.

To all my competitors in the league – get ready.  It’s time.

500 Level Fan Reader Poll – 2015 Results

readers

2015 marked the fourth consecutive year that 500 Level Fan let the readers take over and make predictions about the season-to-be.  And then, for the fourth consecutive year, I blew it by not posting the results.

Until now.

Without further ado, here are the results of the 2015 500 Level Fan Reader Poll.

1. Who finishes with the most home runs: Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, or Josh Donaldson?  And how many will he hit?

Average Reader Answer: Jose Bautista, 41 HR

Actual Result: Josh Donaldson, 41 HR

Only one reader correctly pegged Donaldson, but most were in the vicinity of his team leading 41 bombs.

2. Who starts the most games at second base this year?

Average Reader Answer: Devon Travis

Actual Result: Ryan Goins

The injuries to Travis limited his playing time, and Goins took over and ran with the job, right into the beginning of 2016 as well.  33% of readers correctly picked Goins.

3. Dalton Pompey and Kevin Pillar will both get at bats this season.  Who puts up the best overall numbers by season’s end?

Average Reader Answer: Dalton Pompey

Actual Result: Kevin Pillar

This was almost unanimous, with 90% of readers picking Pompey.  One reader went so far as to predict that Pillar would be so bad that would finish the year in AAA Buffalo.  How wrong that turned out to be…

4. Predict the team leaders in each of the following stats: Batting Average, OPS, Stolen Bases, ERA.

Batting Average

Average Reader Answer: Jose Reyes

Actual Result: Chris Colabello

Not surprisingly – nobody picked CC.

OPS

Average Reader Answer: Jose Bautista

Actual Result: Josh Donaldson

Bautista was the near unanimous pick, with only one reader predicting JD.

Stolen Bases

Average Reader Answer: Jose Reyes

Actual Result: Kevin Pillar

Yeah – nobody saw that coming

ERA

Average Reader Answer: Drew Hutchison, R.A. Dickey, Daniel Norris

Actual Result: David Price

Wow.  Terrible, terrible answers.  The Jays had 9 pitchers throw enough innings to qualify for the ERA title.  Dickey finished 8th and Hutchison finished 9th.

5. Predict one outrageous event that will happen in 2015

Of all the responses, two came very close to coming true.

The runner-up: The Jays rip off a 20-game winning streak in June/July

In actuality, they ripped off an 11-game streak in June – not bad at all.

The winner: Jays win the World Series in game 7, with Marcus Stroman making a surprise return to win the deciding game.

Marcus Stroman did make a surprise return from his knee injury, shocking the baseball world.  And while he wasn’t on the mound to win the deciding game of the World Series, he was on the mound to start the deciding game of the ALDS.  Nice job.

6. How many wins do you expect from the 2015 Blue Jays, and where will they finish in the standings?

Average Reader Answer: 88 wins, 2nd place

Actual Result: 93 wins, 1st place

Just under half the readers thought the Jays would win the division, proving that good things come to those who believe.

Thanks to everybody who participated.

The 2016 poll will be going out soon.

Looking Back At My 2015 MLB Predictions

Crystal Ball

If you thought my 2015 Blue Jays predictions were bad…..

Wow.

2015 American League

Look away.  I had faith in the Jays, but apparently way too much trust in Seattle and Detroit.  In hindsight those are really, really, really bad picks.

2015 National League

A little bit better, but not much.  I picked LA and St. Louis to make the playoffs, but whiffed pretty badly on the Cubs.

2015 AL Stat Leaders

All in all, not too bad.  Aside from nailing Altuve, Bautista (RBI), Price (W and K), and Holland (Saves) all finished in the Top-10.  Robinson Cano was not good….

2015 NL Stat Leaders

I consider this a success.  The only prediction that was accurate was strikeouts, but every single player finished in the top-10, with 6 of the 8 in the top-4.

2015 Playoffs

At least my predicted World Series teams made the playoffs! Also, I picked both the Cardinals and Dodgers to lose in the NLDS, so there’s that.

2015 Awards

Officially I got zero, and some picks were really bad (Cano, Norris, Polanco).  But Felix Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw finished 7th and 3rd (respectively) in Cy Young voting, McCutchen finished 5th in NL MVP voting, and Gibbons and Hurdle both finished 4th in MOY voting.  And even though Kipnis and Votto didn’t win the official Comeback Player of the Year awards handed out by MLB, both turned in fantastic campaigns.

Looking Back At My 2015 Blue Jays Predictions

logo

2015 was a wildly successful year for the Toronto Blue Jays.  They made huge acquisitions, broke a 22 year playoff drought, came within two wins of the World Series, won an MVP award, and saw attendance explode.

2015, however, was not a wildly successful year for 500 Level Fan.  Check out my Blue Jays predictions, made before the season started, to see just how bad of a year it was.

Enjoy!

  1. Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Josh Donaldson combine to hit over 100 HR.

Result: Nailed it!  The Big 3 combined for a whopping 120.

  1. Both Bautista and Donaldson finish in the top-7 of AL MVP voting.

Result: So, so , so close.  Donaldson, of course, won the award, while  Bautista finished 8th in the AL voting with 82 points, 1 point behind Adrian Beltre for 7th.

  1. Four Toronto rookies finish in the top-10 of AL Rookie of the Year voting.

Result:  With six rookies breaking camp with starting roles for the Jays, I clearly had high hopes.  However, Travis and Sanchez both missed significant time with injury, Pompey spent most of the year in the minors, and both Norris and Castro were traded by July.  Only Osuna lasted the whole year, and not surprisingly earned a 4th place finish in ROY voting.

  1. Devon Travis never loses the second base job, fending off challenges from Izturis and Goins, and finishes with very nice rookie numbers.

Result: Looked good, and likely would have been the case until his second half injury ended his season.

  1. The Blue Jays miss the bat of Melky Cabrera in LF, as Michael Saunders struggles to stay healthy and Kevin Pillar struggles to stay productive.

Result: Half right.  Saunders definitely struggled to stay healthy and appeared in only 9 games.  Pillar was very productive…but in CF.  LF was a bit of a black hole until Ben Revere was acquired at the deadline.

  1. Despite losing Marcus Stroman and being labeled as a weak spot by pundits, Blue Jay starting pitchers finish in the top half of all of baseball in ERA….

Result: Yes sir!  Toronto starters finished the year with a 3.96 ERA, good enough for 12th overall in MLB.

  1. …Mainly because Drew Hutchison has a breakout season, with a sub-3.00 ERA and a 9+ K/9 ratio.

Result:  Oh.  Oh no.  Hutchison was incredibly awful this year, especially on the road.  His ERA finished up at 5.57 and his K/9 was a disappointing 7.7.  A terrible year, one that leaves his future with the club in doubt.

  1. After using 23 different relief pitchers in both 2013 and 2014, the Jays continue to cycle through arms in 2015.  Looking for the best possible bullpen, Toronto once again uses 23 relievers this season.

Result: Very, very close.  The Jays actually used 22 different relievers.

  1. One of those relievers is Steve Delabar, who makes a surprise return to the big leagues in June.

Result: He did make a return to the big leagues, but earlier than expected – in May.  Unfortunately, he didn’t do very well once he was here: 5.22 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in 29.1 IP.

  1. Dioner Navarro is traded before the deadline.

Result: Nope, he lasted the whole year and was a huge contributor, especially his partnership with Marco Estrada.

  1. Russell Martin proves more than adequate at handling Dickey’s knuckleball, meaning that after Navarro is dealt the Jays call up A.J. Jimenez to serve as Martin’s backup, as opposed to Josh Thole.

Result: Every year I fall in love with the idea that Jimenez will make the big league roster, and every year I’m disappointed.  In fact, Jimenez had one of the worst years of his career in 2015, hitting .194 with a .538 OPS for New Hampshire and Buffalo before wrist surgery ended his season.

  1. Jose Reyes plays over 145 games.

Result: Nope.  Reyes only appeared in 116 games – 69 with the Jays and 47 with the Rockies.

  1. After struggling against them for years and years, the Jays finally win the season series against the Yankees.

Result: Absolutely nailed this one.  Toronto went 13-6 against New York, including four very memorable series down the stretch.

  1. Dalton Pompey provides one of the highlights of the season with a 5-hit game.

Result: He did finish the season with a 5-hit game….only it happened with AAA Buffalo.  Kind of got it right???

  1. A year after completely falling apart in August with a 9-17 record, Toronto erases those memories by going 19-8 in the month this year.

Result: They were even better than expected, going 21-6 to fly up the standings and take over first place in the division.

  1. This year’s winner of the “no-name reliever who comes out of nowhere to have a very nice season” award is Colt Hynes.

Result: Oh my.  Hynes only lasted 3 innings in the big leagues, registering an ERA of 6.00.  The winner of this award would have to be Liam Hendricks.

  1. Devon Travis puts up better number across the board than Brett Lawrie does in Oakland.

Result:

Travis – .304 / .361 / .498 / .859, 8 HR, 35 RBI, 3 SB, 2.4 WAR

Lawrie – .260 / .299 / .407 / .786, 16 HR, 60 RBI, 5 SB, 1.9 WAR

Despite playing in 87 fewer games, I think Travis gets the nod.

  1. Toronto scores over 20 runs in a game, twice.

Result: Despite having the best offense in the game, they never did reach that lofty plateau.  They did reach 15 runs on 3 separate occasions.

  1. On Tuesday April 21, the Jays host the Orioles, and Baltimore’s Travis Snider is given a nice ovation by the home crowd, before striking out 3 times against Blue Jay pitching.

Result: Toronto fans being who they are actually booed Snider, and he responded with a 2-for-4 game and only one strikeout.  So…no.

  1. In his comeback season from his steroid suspension, A-Rod does absolutely nothing against the Jays, finishing with 1 HR and a sub .200 average.

Result: A-Rod vs. Toronto = .175 average and 2 HR.  Half right.

  1. The Jays rip off a 10-game winning streak and two separate 6-game winning streaks.

Result:  Again, even better.  The club ripped off two 11-game streaks and one 6-gamer.

  1. A Blue Jay finishes in the top-5 in the AL in stolen bases

Result: Yes!  With 25 steals, Kevin Pillar tied for 5th, 13 behind leader Jose Altuve.

  1.  Mark Buehrle exceeds 200 IP yet again.

Result: So very, very , very close.  198.2.  He had a chance in the finale but couldn’t get it done.

  1. Toronto enters September within 3 games of the AL East lead.

Result: They actually entered the month with a 1.5 game lead in the division.

  1. The Blue Jays clinch a playoff spot during the season’s final series in Tampa Bay, ending a 22 year drought.

Result: Again, even better than expected.  They actually clinched a playoff spot against Tampa Bay but in Toronto the weekend before, before clinching the division in Baltimore.

 

500 Level Fan Reader Poll – 2015 Edition

readers

For the fourth consecutive year, 500 Level Fan has decided to let the readers – the fine, educated, and outstanding readers – take over.

This year I am asking several Jays related questions, both team and player related, and even threw in a fun question for the field.

So without further ado, here are the results of the 2015 500 Level Fan Reader Poll.

1. Who finishes with the most home runs: Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, or Josh Donaldson?  And how many will he hit?

The answer is overwhelming: Bautista is the man.  67% of responders say Jose will hit the most out of the “big-3”.  22% sided with Edwin, while only 11% went with Donaldson.  In terms of numbers, the max was pegged at 56 bombs, the min was 34, and the average came out to be 41.

2. Who starts the most games at second base this year?

The poll went out to the field before the opening day roster was announced, which might explain why there are so many Goins answers.  That, or the readers don’t have a lot of faith in Devon Travis.

Devon Travis – 56%

Ryan Goins – 33%

Maicer Izturis – 11%

3. Dalton Pompey and Kevin Pillar will both get at bats this season.  Who puts up the best overall numbers by season’s end?

The question was a bit vague, something that was evident in the responses.  But the overwhelming majority said that Pompey is the man to watch, with one respondent going so far as to say that Pillar will be so bad that he will be sent to the minors.

4. Predict the team leaders in each of the following stats: Batting Average, OPS, Stolen Bases, ERA.

Batting Average: Jose Reyes (56%), Josh Donaldson (22%), Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion (11% each)

OPS: Jose Bautista (78%), Jose Reyes and Josh Donaldson (11% each)

Stolen Bases: Jose Reyes (70%), Ryan Goins / Dalton Pompey / Devon Travis (10% each)

ERA: Drew Hutchison (38%), R.A. Dickey and Daniel Norris (25% each), Aaron Sanchez (12%)

5. Predict one outrageous event that will happen in 2015

Quite the range of outrageous predictions here.  Enjoy!

– The Jays rip off a 20-game winning streak in June/July

– Aaron Sanchez throws a perfect game

– A fan runs onto the field during a game, fields a foul ball, then fires the ball to the first baseman before being caught and kicked out

– Daniel Norris is arrested for cocaine possession in his van

– In a non-Jay event, A-Rod rekindles his romance with Madonna

– Ricky Romero makes his way back to the big leagues with Toronto, only to fail spectacularly

– Edwin Encarnacion accidentally hits John Gibbons in the groin when a bat slips out of his hands.  Gibbons misses 6 games.

– Jays win the World Series in game 7, with Marcus Stroman making a surprise return to win the deciding game

– R.A. Dickey wins 20 games and finishes second in Cy Young voting

6. How many wins do you expect from the 2015 Blue Jays, and where will they finish in the standings?

What a difference a year makes.  Last year, readers were so jaded and disappointed from 2013 that the win predictions were very low.  This year?  Not so much.

The minimum number of wins predicted for the team was 81, with the max being 96 and the average being 90.  44% of respondents thought the team would win the AL East, with a further 33% believing they will win enough games to claim a Wild Card spot.

The optimism is back.  Now the team has to come through.

Thanks to everybody for fiilling out the ballot. Good luck with your picks!

Check back for a mid-season update and an end-of-season results column.

25 Blue Jay Predictions for 2015

logo

Over the course of the past week, 500 Level Fan has posted a series of divisional previews, and a host of blatantly incorrect 2015 predictions.

Today I wrap up my season prediction columns with a look at what’s in store for the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays, just in time for this afternoon’s opener.

Here are 25 predictions about Toronto’s upcoming season.  Enjoy!

1. Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Josh Donaldson combine to hit over 100 HR.

2. Both Bautista and Donaldson finish in the top-7 of AL MVP voting.

3. Four Toronto rookies finish in the top-10 of AL Rookie of the Year voting.

4. Devon Travis never loses the second base job, fending off challenges from Izturis and Goins, and finishes with very nice rookie numbers.

5. The Blue Jays miss the bat of Melky Cabrera in LF, as Michael Saunders struggles to stay healthy and Kevin Pillar struggles to stay productive.

6. Despite losing Marcus Stroman and being labeled as a weak spot by pundits, Blue Jay starting pitchers finish in the top half of all of baseball in ERA….

7. …Mainly because Drew Hutchison has a breakout season, with a sub-3.00 ERA and a 9+ K/9 ratio.

8. After using 23 different relief pitchers in both 2013 and 2014, the Jays continue to cycle through arms in 2015.  Looking for the best possible bullpen, Toronto once again uses 23 relievers this season.

9. One of those relievers is Steve Delabar, who makes a surprise return to the big leagues in June.

10. Dioner Navarro is traded before the deadline.

11. Russell Martin proves more than adequate at handling Dickey’s knuckleball, meaning that after Navarro is dealt the Jays call up A.J. Jimenez to serve as Martin’s backup, as opposed to Josh Thole.

12. Jose Reyes plays over 145 games.

13. After struggling against them for years and years, the Jays finally win the season series against the Yankees.

14. Dalton Pompey provides one of the highlights of the season with a 5-hit game.

15. A year after completely falling apart in August with a 9-17 record, Toronto erases those memories by going 19-8 in the month this year.

16. This year’s winner of the “no-name reliever who comes out of nowhere to have a very nice season” award is Colt Hynes.

17. Devon Travis puts up better number across the board than Brett Lawrie does in Oakland.

18. Toronto scores over 20 runs in a game, twice.

19. On Tuesday April 21, the Jays host the Orioles, and Baltimore’s Travis Snider is given a nice ovation by the home crowd, before striking out 3 times against Blue Jay pitching.

20. In his comeback season from his steroid suspension, A-Rod does absolutely nothing against the Jays, finishing with 1 HR and a sub .200 average.

21. The Jays rip off a 10-game winning streak and two separate 6-game winning streaks.

22. A Blue Jay finishes in the top-5 in the AL in stolen bases

23.  Mark Buehrle exceeds 200 IP yet again.

24. Toronto enters September within 3 games of the AL East lead.

25. The Blue Jays clinch a playoff spot during the season’s final series in Tampa Bay, ending a 22 year drought.